Our guests love coming to New Orleans for Bourbon Street, the fantastic parades, beignets and coffee, and the great city vibe. But what do you do when you crave something a little more “natural” in the midst of NOLA’s urban draw? Well, you head 1.3 miles from our bed and breakfast to New Orleans’ City Park and the NOLA Museum of Art (NOMA)!
Built in 1891, City Park is one of the largest, and one of the oldest, city parks in history. Our city park is over half again as large as the urban oasis in New York City (Central Park) with SO much to do! The 1300-acre park stretches 2.4 miles towards Lake Pontchartrain and contains no less than five major attractions including NOMA itself, Storyland playground, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, the Couturie Forest and Arboretum, and the NOLA Botanical Garden, to name just a few
You’ll find the “standard” park experience on the south side of City Park. Here, kids can enjoy the playground, families and groups can compete on 36 holes of putt-putt golf, walking/jogging/biking trails offer even surfaces for exercise, paddleboats dot Big Lake, the “Singing Oak” charms with its wind chimes, and Storyland offers youngsters the chance to step into their favorite fairy tales. A water park is the next feature to be added to the south side!
As for NOMA… well, we’re almost ashamed to give it second billing. The oldest fine arts museum in the city was built in 1911 (as the Delgado Museum of Art after the sugar broker who funded its creation), and is home to a whopping 40,000+ objects dating back to the Italian Renaissance, including every well-known classical artist! If you get hungry during your time at the park, this is also a great place to grab a bite to eat at either Café NOMA or the Courtyard Café.
Just outside NOMA is the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden which features 50 modern sculptures on five acres of live oaks, flowers, lagoons, and a walking trail that meanders through the grounds.
Just across Victory Avenue to the north of the Sculpture Garden is the city’s Botanical Garden. This attraction first opened in 1936 as the City Park Rose Garden and grew from there. What is unique about this garden is that much of it is actually outside (as opposed the “norm” of keeping botanicals indoors to protect them from the elements), thanks to the city’s agreeable climate. While there are five buildings on the property, they are mostly used for gatherings and small events. The Botanical Garden also takes a note from the Sculpture Garden: you’ll see several works by Enrique Alferez throughout the property. Featuring both plants and trees, the gardens cover seven acres of land just south of City Park (stay tuned for more info on that attraction in the future).
To the west of the Botanical Garden is the charming Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, featuring a 100-year-old restored carousel for the young (and young-at-heart). Additional rides include a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars, fun slide, and much more.
Heading north through the park, you may encounter either the Tad Gromley Stadium and the racetrack, or the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds (which you’ll hear about in future posts).
The nature sanctuary area makes up the bulk of City Park in the center section (north of Harrison Avenue). You’ll find a variety of ecosystems represented here, including forest, marsh/swamp, prairie, and water-side. Oh, and there’s yet another sculpture garden – we do love our art in New Orleans! The most unique feature you’ll find in this section of the park is the 60-acre Couturie Forest and Arboretum, home to over 100 bird species!
North of the nature sanctuary area is Bayou Oaks at City Park, including two public 18-hole golf courses and a driving range. So if you want to hit the links, your chance is just 3.4 miles north of the inn!
City Park and NOMA are easily accessible by foot; however you can also catch the Carrollton Streetcar just outside our front door, which will take you directly to NOMA and the south side of the park. So if you aren’t able to explore it all in a single day, it is very easy to return when you stay with us!